FEEDING BACK AND INTERPRETING RESEARCH FINDINGS

Successful community-academic partnerships do not cease when the data have been collected. They also continue through the analyses, interpretation, and dissemination phases. There are many methods to involve community in this phase of the project. Sometimes community members have conducted the analyses in partnership with the academic members. They also can provide member feedback about the validity of the interpretation of the findings or help provide understanding of counterintuitive or contradictory findings. In other cases, they provide thoughtful discussion about the findings, their interpretation, and their implications. Involving community in thoughtful review and discussion of the data and their interpretation can enhance the validity and meaningfulness of final reports and manuscripts.

Related, many community-academic partnerships fail because institutions are reluctant to acknowledge their shortcomings and accept outside criticism. The authors have been involved in CBPR efforts in which the academic institution sponsoring the project was resistant to including anything in their study reports that reflected poorly on the institution. For example, in one community needs assessment, the lead academic institution received many critiques from community members such as researchers never really relinquished power or promoted equity, the institution used the community but rarely gave back, the institution promoted more image than substance, and institutional researchers became nonexistent in community as soon as they got their data. Within community-academic partnerships, it is essential to be transparent and to let the data speak. All too often, researchers pick and choose the key points of needs assessments or outcome data that support their underlying agenda or desired outcome. This type of censorship of data to protect the institution results in a lack of transparency that damages community relationships. Rather than reject these critiques, researchers could acknowledge them and use them as an opportunity to begin a dialogue of the ways that this project could be done differently.

TRANSLATING AND DISSEMINATING RESEARCH FINDINGS

Researchers should avoid jargon and fancy conceptual models meant to impress academics. Elegant conceptual models and terminology are fine for academic presentations, but the best community presentations are when academics present concepts in straightforward lay language. Similarly, community presentations of data are best when focused on a summary of key findings without lots of statistics. Successful community dissemination is best focused on interpreting the findings and on how best to use the information to improve programs and services. Another successful strategy is to include of key community partners as copresenters who can present the findings in their own words and lead discussion.

 
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